By Bob Allen
A former second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention counseled survivors of Wednesday’s deadly shooting in San Bernardino, Calif.
Wiley Drake, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, Calif., elected an SBC officer in 2006, said on his daily call-in prayer webcast Dec. 3 that upon hearing about shootings that killed at least 14 and wounding at least 17, he quickly responded with a “boots on the ground” presence at the Inland Regional Center about 50 miles away.
“I had the opportunity that I didn’t like, even though I’ve been a pastor for more than 50 years,” Drake said. “I had the opportunity to counsel with people who lost loved ones and who didn’t know whether they were lost yet or not, because they were still in the hospital and so forth.”
Drake said there was nothing he could do to prevent the attack, “but as a minister of the gospel, as a Christian, I went out there and spent hours.”
“I’m not saying that to brag, but I went out there and spent hours so I could go to them and say: ‘We care. We will pray with you and for you,’” Drake said.
He recalled a poignant conversation with a woman at the scene who said she needed to talk to someone.
“She said, ‘I was standing there at work, at the Christmas party, and my friend turned to me and said, ‘Hey, I hear fireworks. They’re doing fireworks for our Christmas party.’ She said, ‘I turned and looked, and my friend was not there, and I looked down and she was at my feet.’”
“Those fireworks weren’t fireworks,” Drake said. “They were gunfire, and it took her down, and she died right there at her feet.”
Drake commented about debate over whether the massacre carried out by a Muslim couple qualified as a terrorist attack.
“Was this terrorist? Of course it was,” he said. “They were there to kill as many people as they possibly could.”
Drake said the discovery of an arsenal of 5,000 rounds of ammunition and 15 pipe bombs suggests the assailants could have harmed many more people if they had not been stopped by police.
“We need to prevent this kind of thing from happening,” Drake said. “We cannot prevent it from happening by taking guns away from people. I don’t care what the president says, taking guns away from people is not going to solve the problem.”
Even before the most recent shooting, Drake said his church was sponsoring armed training classes on how to survive shooting events and the legal use of force in confrontational situations.
“Giving people a legal gun will not necessarily totally solve the problem, but it will certainly help with the problem if men and women can be armed prepared to defend themselves and their neighbors when the bad guys show up,” Drake said.
Drake, a controversialist who in the past made national headlines for advocating “imprecatory” prayer asking God to bring death to President Obama, said he has been ridiculed as a minister for advocating arming Americans for self-defense.
“Why would a church promote guns?” Drake asked. “Well, because Jesus would promote guns.”
“They didn’t have guns in his day, but had they had them, he would have promoted them,” Drake said.
Drake reminded listeners of Jesus’ words to his disciples in Luke 22:36, “If you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.”
“Jesus was about arming his disciples,” Drake said.
“We believe that the church ought to help the community,” Drake said. “We believe the church ought to help in spiritual matters, but the Bible says we are body, soul and spirit.”
“Spiritual help comes from the Word of God and soul help comes from the Word of God,” he continued. “We help people physically here at this church because we have a homeless shelter. We feed their bodies. We give them a place to sleep. Would be to God we could train some people to help them understand how to protect themselves.”
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